Children love a fun challenge and to imitate adults. This fishing for numbers and letters game ticks all the boxes. It’s fun, lively, and educational to boot!
I remember similar games from my childhood and this was also popular among the children I taught in Japan. I cut out 10 fish from various colours of construction paper. I drew on little eyes, mouth and gills and a number on each of them so that the numbers 1 to 10 were covered.
I then laminated the fishing for numbers cards with contact paper. I put 3 staples through the area of the mouth (that on some happen to look conveniently like teeth). Or you could use a paper clip to achieve the same function; however, I didn’t want the paper clips to fall off or be swallowed by little people. We use an expandable magnet (Thanks to my dad who has given Phil and I each one for our tool boxes) as a fishing rod. However, in Japan we used a magnet attached to the end of a piece of string. The other end of the string was attached to a chopstick to act as the rod. I’ve now made one of these so all the children can play at the same time. Tristan loves the homemade fishing rod the best!
How to go fishing for numbers:
We review the number or colour of each fish before it is thrown into the air to land somewhere in the pond. I then call out a number or colour and we either take turns or race to see who can ‘catch’ the appropriate fish first. If the child isn’t able to use the magnet very well, then they can simply pick up the fish with their hands.
Now that Tristan has mastered 1-10, I have also made another set comprising numbers 11-20 for an added challenge.
We hadn’t used this game in some time so we brought it out again this week to use with our camping theme. We have even made a ‘pond’ to use as well. Tristan did a fantastic job of painting the grass around the edges to make it look like little blades of grass!
Tristan’s challenge was to find the numbers 11-20 I called out at random during his turn. The girls’ challenge was to find a fish of a particular colour. This is a good way to keep children of different cognitive levels working together.
Additional ideas for fishing for numbers:
This not only works for colours and numbers, but also for hand-eye coordination, and taking turns. If you choose to leave the numbers off of the fish, you could use a dry-erase marker to write the numbers on the fish, or letters, or sight-words to keep the fun of the game but increase the level of difficulty. This will be our next task.
If you don’t want to make the fish, you could simply place paperclips on flashcards you already have for a quick and easy game on the run.
Another idea with these fish is to sing this action song to help children learn about the order of numbers (math), while moving about to engage both sides of the brain for different types of learners:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a fish alive
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Then I threw it back again.
Why did you let it go? Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite? This little finger on my right.
To find out more about how we have expanded our ‘camping’ theme, explore our blogs about a cardboard roll canoe, DIY Solar oven, and indoor campfire, and S’mores, or hike over to our indoor camping or summer fun pages.
Visit our pages for more ideas about learning about colours and numbers, and letters.